Be sure to read the Living Dustjacket for information about this series.
Yes, curating is a made up word, but it’s the best way to describe the process of managing of collection of items past and present. Many of us have collections – whether it’s books, stamps, coins, shells, boxes, wine, handbags – anything that comes in multiples can be collected. What do you do when your collection becomes more than a hobby, and becomes almost a museum that tells a story? How do you manage the data about your collection?
In this series, we will walk through the process of deciding when to upgrade your personal collection into a full inventory management. We’ll focus more on the “Why Do I” rather than the “How Do I'”. Microsoft has a rich array of webcasts, videos and podcasts out there to show you the “How” and we’ll be sure to point you to those resources as they are appropriate. The goals of this series is to show you can started with programming from scratch! Even if you are new to .NET or to programming altogether! This series is geared towards the beginning developer who wants to be empowered with technology, and if you are a woman, even better! We certainly need more women in this industry.
Throughout the series, you will see the benefits of using the newest technologies to invent, create and manage your personal pet database and system. Ideally, this book presents technology in a way that’s easily digestible for a non-developer. The sheer amount of information around software development can be overwhelming. The best way to approach software development is to wade in, and create something that is useful for you to use every day. Almost everyone has used eBay at one point or another. How would you like to build a system where you could create your own customized system that stores not only information about your personal collection, but also enables you to sell it online? Visual Studio 2010 and SQL Server 2010 makes this very possible. But let’s start slowly, and first explore the Why behind the technology.
Options for Storing Your Collection
Every collection has an inventory management process. Your collection of items is your inventory. Now you need to decide where to store it. Consider an oenophile,a connoisseur of fine wines. What are ways to document your knowledge?
|Where to store your collection? ||How to store it? ||What are the benefits? |
|Book ||You could soak off wine labels, and paste them in a book, accompanied with tasting notes, occasion, and food pairings. ||The benefit of this is the tactile sensation you get by flipping the pages. Nothing replaces the feel of a book, especially one that you’ve handcrafted. |
|Excel Spreadsheet ||Excel spreadsheets are another way to manage the collection. You could scan the labels and use hyperlinks inside the cells to point the files on your local drive. ||The benefit of this approach is the physical space you save by digitizing your storage system. Plus, spreadsheets are very intuitive to use, and easy to manage. |
|Access Database ||An Access database is yet another way, taking the spreadsheet one step further. ||The benefit of this approach is that now you can pivot on the data much more richly, bringing together more complex data much faster. Microsoft Access had a built in wizard that lets you quickly create user interfaces to show off your data. |
|SQL Server Database ||SQL Server gives you much more scalability to turn your collection of data into a true system. ||The benefit of this approach is that the data is now distinctly separate from the user interface. You could create a cell phone application (mobile) or a desktop application (Windows Presentation Foundation or Windows Forms) or a Web application (Silverlight or ASP.NET), and use the same exact back end. |
You can now also support multiple users (concurrency) much more faster. This is going to be useful should you ever want to take your system to the Web and sell to many different users worldwide.
What kind of curator are you?
Learning how to build your own system will give you the freedom you to shape, share and socialize your knowledge and your precious items in any way you see fit. You will see how you can combine the reach of the Internet with the power of software, particular in the .NET platform. Then, you can share your data globally and become a the type of curator that makes sense for you. For example, you could be:
- a curator librarian - as an expert to share knowledge and help people with their questions, and manage a library
- a curator designer - showing off of your collection over the web, and manage a gallery
- a curator auctioneer – to match people with items that are for sale in a collection, and manage a store
You will learn how to be any or all of these in this series.
Plato was the inventor of most every word that ends in –ize. He was the father of categorization. Most collectors love to categorize and this skill will serve you well when you design a database or a software system.
Your homework is to think of a subject matter in which you are a cognoscente and collector. Every collection begins with an item. Think of an item that means something to you, that you would like to curator.
For me this project will start with a charm. Charms are typically collected individually as a souvenir of something special – such as a a beloved travel spot, a favorite hobby, or simply as a symbol of love. :
Each charm is an item, a member of a specific grouping, or collection. They can then be categorized into bracelets – a bracelet for travel spots, a bracelet for lucky charms, a bracelet just specific composed of three-dimensional cameras (by the way, you’ll see all of these in this series. more on that later)*.
As you are deciding on what item you want to choose, think of it terms of a larger collection. Can your item be organized into various groups? For example, you could be collecting seaglass. Seaglass could be arranged by color, by shape, by original source. Your item should be something you love and something that you can categorize:
When you come back for the next chapter, have your item in hand. We will then teach you the principles of object oriented programming and help you design a system that’s tailored a la .NET a porter, specifically to your exact needs. Once we have the system in place, we will then show you how you can extend it to the web.
Chapter by chapter, we will walk through the process of how you can boost your knowledge and share the special information that you know using the power of technology.
~ end chapter one ~
* note: whenever you see “more on that later” without being associated to a hyperlink, it means that I will go back later and make “more on that later” on something that I will write in the future.